FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.4, September 1999


EC (16 September)

FAO’s latest forecast puts aggregate 1999 cereal production in the EC at 200 million tonnes, about 5 percent down from last year but still above the average of the past 5 years. The smaller crop expected reflects reduced areas due to a 5 percent increase in the compulsory set-aside requirements and adverse weather. Generally less favourable weather than last year during the winter and dry conditions in the spring in southern parts is expected to result in lower average yields notably for wheat. Wheat output is forecast at 97.2 million tonnes, 5 percent down from 1998, while aggregate output of coarse grains is forecast to fall by about 6 percent to 100.1 million tonnes. In the EC, the 1999 paddy season is underway. Current indications point to an area of 405 000 hectares and to an output of 2.6 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from last year.

ALBANIA (16 September)

Cereal output in 1999 is likely to fall by 24 percent to 477 000 tonnes, below average and covering only 50 percent of the domestic cereal requirement. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the country in June, found that the two main factors which affected cereal production were excessive rainfall during the autumn planting season and a preference by farmers to grow more lucrative vegetable crops. Combined, these factors led to a sharp reduction in the areas sown to cereals to 177 000 hectares. Growing conditions have been satisfactory overall and the yield of both wheat and maize is expected to be similar or marginally higher than in 1998, due to the absence of major diseases and pest infestations. Wheat (the basic food cereal) is expected to account for only 311 000 tonnes. Thus, the deficit of cereals which would have to be imported to meet normal consumption requirements in 1999/2000 is estimated at up to 478 000 tonnes, including 373 000 tonnes of wheat and 17 000 tonnes of rice. The bulk of the cereal import requirement is expected to be met commercially. This requirement excludes the food needs of refugees and host families, which are being met through a separate international assistance programme.

The precarious food security situation being experienced by many households is attributable mainly to the general economic and development difficulties that the country has experienced in the 1990's, rather than to the Kosovo crisis. Nevertheless, inadequate access to food, as a result of very low incomes continues to be a problem for poor households, and particularly the poorest households in the north and northeast mountainous regions.

BELARUS (7 September)

Hot and dry conditions coupled with economic problems resulted in another poor harvest. Average yields are reported to be around 1.75 tonnes per hectares, bunker weight, pointing to a cleaned weight harvest of less than last year's 4.9 million tonnes.

Despite the second poor cereal harvest in succession, provisionally estimated by FAO at 4.7 million tonnes, cereal imports in 1999/2000 are expected to be lower than last year. Aggregate cereal imports in 1999/2000 are tentatively estimated at 500 000 tonnes. Market demand for livestock products has collapsed and foreign exchange constraints limit feedgrain imports.


Systematic cropping information is not available. Indications are that the 1999 cereal harvest could be similar to last year's 1.1 million tonnes. The area sown to winter crops remained stable but that of spring maize has continued to increase. However, untimely rains resulted in lower yields. The economy has been negatively affected by civil unrest in the region and the country is hosting refugees. Indications are, however, that the crop and overall food supply situation have not been unduly disrupted.

BULGARIA (16 September)

The 1999 wheat output is forecast to drop, by 20 percent, to 2.6 million tonnes due to smaller plantings and reduced fertilizer applications. Crop quality has been affected by excessive rains and low fertilizer use. Spring planting was delayed due to frequent rainfall but nevertheless the aggregate area sown to coarse grains increased. Yields are expected to be somewhat lower and aggregate coarse grain output is forecast at 2.2 million tonnes, compared to 2.4 million tonnes last year. Carry-forward stocks of wheat form the 1998/99 year, are expected to offset the reduced harvest and in addition to allow the country to continue to export wheat.

CROATIA (8 September)

1999 cereal production is expected to be significantly lower than last year, due to reduced winter and spring grain planting and untimely rains. The area sown to wheat fell sharply, from 242 000 to 150 000 hectares, in response to shortages of working capital and seeds. Untimely rains at harvest and inadequate use of inputs also resulted in lower yields and output is likely to halve to only 500 000 tonnes. Planting of spring grains, mainly maize, were also less than planned, but those of barley and oats (minor crops) were close to target. Overall, 1999 cereal production could be up to one third lower than last year's 3.2 million tonnes. The grain supply situation is likely to remain satisfactory as wheat stocks can be drawn down from last year's bumper harvest.

CZECH REPUBLIC (16 September)

Better overall yields than last year are expected to more than offset the reduction of 9 percent in the area sown. Aggregate cereal output in 1999 is officially forecast to increase by 3 percent to 6.9 million tonnes and include 4.0 million tonnes of wheat.

ESTONIA (8 September)

Planting of winter cereals for harvest in 2000 is underway. The aggregate area sown to grains has stabilized at about 350 000 hectares per annum and includes about 60 000 hectares of winter wheat and rye. 1999 cereal production is expected at about 700 00 tonnes, similar to last year. In 1999/2000, cereal imports are forecast at nearly 170 000 tonnes. Production in the dairy industry has declined during the first half of 1999.

Agricultural and economic policy are geared to harmonisation with those in the EU. The budget allocation for agricultural subsidies for the year 2000 has been increased by some 30 percent. Subsidies for dairy and cereal production have been increased and farm collectives and non-farm enterprises in rural areas have become eligible for subsidies.

HUNGARY (16 September)

The latest official estimates indicate that the 1999 wheat harvest is only 2.6 million tonnes, 47 percent down from the 1998 crop. Farmers’ incentive to plant wheat last autumn was dampened after they experienced severe marketing problems with their 1998 crops and adverse weather also sharply reduced the area sown. In addition, this year's crop was affected by severe flooding and torrential rains. The final wheat area for harvest in 1999 fell 36 percent, to 765 000 hectares. To compensate for the reduced wheat area, the area sown to maize increased by 10 percent and growing conditions have been favourable for this crop on the whole. The aggregate coarse grain output is expected to increase by a smaller percentage.

Despite the low wheat harvest, carry-forward stocks from the previous year, will enable the country to continue to export some wheat in the 1999/2000 marketing year. Maize could be used to replace feed wheat for certain livestock.

LATVIA (15 September)

The aggregate crop area, for harvest in 1999, declined by 8 percent, while cereal area fell by 13 percent, mainly due to a sharp reduction (-15 percent) in winter wheat and rye planting. Spring grain area also fell. Growing conditions have been mostly satisfactory and output could remain similar to last year's level of 970 000 tonnes.

LITHUANIA (15 September)

The aggregate area sown to grains is estimated to have fallen by 9 percent to 1.79 million hectares. Private farmers and households planted 858 000 hectares, 5 percent less than 1998, while large (former state) enterprises planted 211 000 hectares, some 22 percent less. Recession in the livestock industry following the devaluation of the Russian rouble as well as the accumulation of livestock and grain stocks has contributed to the reduction in area. In contrast, the areas sown to oilseeds and that under perennial pasture increased. Growing conditions have been mostly satisfactory, during the winter and spring growing seasons and about average yields are expected.

MOLDOVA (10 September)

1999 winter grain production (mainly wheat and barley) is officially reported at only 1 million tonnes. The area sown to wheat fell by 11 percent to 317 000 hectares, due to difficulties in marketing last year's crop and adverse growing conditions. Persistent economic problems coupled with frost in May and dry conditions in summer resulted in lower yields. The outlook for spring maize remains uncertain. Official expectations that the standing crop will produce only 600 000 to 800 000 tonnes, however, could be pessimistic.

Despite the reduced harvest, 1999 cereal production will be adequate to meet domestic food needs and significant commercial imports of cereals are not expected in the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June). The government plans to purchase 100 000 tonnes of food wheat at US $ 91 per ton from this year's harvest, to replenish government reserves.

POLAND (16 September)

The outlook for the 1999 grain harvest has improved somewhat. The aggregate area sown to cereal crops declined by 3 percent but the impact of reduced use of inputs is not as marked as was expected. The aggregate harvest is forecast to reach 26.1 million tonnes, i.e. about 1 million tonnes, or 4 percent, less than last year's. Output of wheat is now tentatively forecast at 9.3 million tonnes compared to the bumper 9.5 million tonnes in 1998. Output of coarse grains is tentatively forecast to decline by 5 percent to 16.8 million tonnes.

ROMANIA (16 September)

The 1999 wheat harvest reached only 4.7 million tonnes, compared to 5.2 million tonnes in the previous year. The reduction in the area sown last August was exacerbated by crop damage due to floods and torrential rains in the summer. In addition, farmers' financial difficulties constrained their use of inputs. By contrast, the summer maize crop is expected to recover from last year’s low level to reach about 10.5 million tonnes. If achieved, this would bring the aggregate cereal harvest to 16.3 million tonnes, compared to 15.4 million tonnes in 1998.

Despite the lower wheat harvest, the country has an exportable surplus of wheat of 1 about million tonnes.


Harvest returns to date confirm expectations of a larger harvest than last year's poor crop, despite a sharp reduction in grain area and locust infestations in some areas. FAO forecasts 1999 grain output at about 60 million tonnes, some 12 million tonnes higher than official output in 1998. At the forecast level, however, output would still be well below average. The aggregate area sown to grain crops, which survived winterkill, fell by 8 percent to 46.8 million hectares. This reduction is due to increased winterkill in 1999 (2.75mh compared to 2.1mh in 1998) and a reduction of 3 million hectares, to 35.4 million hectares, in the area sown to spring grains. This was due in part to shortages of seeds in the wake of last year's poor harvest. Also in response to the tight fodder situation, the aggregate area sown to wheat has fallen (for the first time since 1994) by over 3 million hectares to 23 million hectares, while that planted to coarse grains fell by 0.7 million hectares to 22.6 million hectares. Growing conditions have been mixed this year, particularly west of the Urals. Winter grain planting was hampered by dryness and yields in some parts of the North Caucasus (Stavropol, Rostov) and Volga Regions, making plants less resilient to winterkill. Frosts in May, but particularly hot and dry conditions in June and July reduced yields in some areas (notably Volgograd and Saratov, exacerbating lower winter plantings and winterkill looses) but overall winter grain yields are higher than last year’s, which were affected by drought. Markedly better yields have been achieved in the belt stretching from the North Caucasus to the Ural Region. East of the Urals growing conditions on the whole have been better but inflation and the chronic shortage of inputs are expected to keep yields below average. In addition, the harvest in East Siberia has been delayed by heavy rains.

Given normal weather until the completion of the harvest, indications are that higher average yields could more than offset the reduction in the area sown. FAO tentatively forecasts 1999 grain production at 60 million tonnes, including some 31 million tonnes of wheat (1998:30 tonnes) and 28 million tonnes of coarse grains (1998: 22.6 tonnes).

This year, locust infestations have occurred on 1.1 million hectares. The main infestations, of Italian Locusts, are in areas adjacent to Kazakhstan, including Orenburg (216 000 hectares) Altai Kray (150 000 hectares) Omsk (150 000 hectares) and the Republic of Bashkorstan (200 000 hectares). Further north, infestations have spread to some areas, e.g. Samara and Saratov regions, where locusts have not occurred for 40 years. In the Lower Povolsk and Northern Caucasus region, despite control measures, Italian Locusts have affected 156 000 hectares of which only 98 000 have been treated to date. In the Astrakhan and Kalmyk Republic, infestations of Asian Migratory Locust cover 14 000 hectares.

Overall, the food supply situation in 1999/2000 will remain tight and there is no scope to replenish stocks following the drawdown last year. Despite last year's poor harvest and reduced imports, cereal stocks carried forward in to 1999/2000 amount to at least 5 million tonnes. Given minimum grain needs of 70-72 million tonnes, (and a further reduction in feed use of grains,) there would remain a deficit of 5-7 million tonnes, with no stock replenishment. Against this requirement, outstanding deliveries of food aid pledged in 19998/99 amount to about 2.7 million tonnes. Latest indications are that at least 50 percent of this year's harvest is food wheat. At the aggregate level, this would be adequate to cover food needs but many regions have imposed bans on the movement of grain. Livestock numbers and meat production continue to decline, (meat production by 8 percent in the first half of this year) and the short term outlook is for this trend to continue.

SLOVAK REPUBLIC (16 September)

No firm harvest estimates are available yet, but the outlook is for a reduced cereal harvest in 1999. Winter wheat planting fell, by about one third, to 270 000 hectares, and fell well short of the target of 400 000 hectares. The reduction was due to adverse weather at planting and economic problems on farm. Latest indications are that the areas sown to spring grains did not increase sufficiently to offset the reduction in winter grains. In addition, the spring grain crop has been affected by dry conditions. Moreover, crop yields in general are reduced as a result of deteriorating soil fertility and the aging farm machinery. The 1999 crop could fall by up to 13 percent to 3.1 million tonnes, compared to 3.6 million tonnes in 1998.

SLOVENIA (13 September)

Winter wheat area is estimated to be 16 percent lower than last year. This, together with adverse growing conditions late in the season, resulted in a 19 percent fall in production to 155 000 tonnes. Spring grain yields were affected by poor weather in June and July and aggregate output is expected to be significantly lower than last year's 600 000 tonnes. Output of sugarbeet is also forecast to fall.


An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the country in June, found that the large-scale population movement and the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo had aggravated general economic instability and poverty. Affected households are having increasing difficulty in paying everyday expenses, and changes in food habits were noted. The major factor has been the collapse of trade with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, one of the country's most important export markets and a vital source of raw materials. The loss of the important fruit and vegetable markets in particular has resulted in lower producer prices so far this year. Farmers' financial situation has therefore deteriorated. Non- agricultural households are also affected as employment opportunities are disrupted by the shortage of raw materials.

The Mission forecast 1999 cereal production at an above average 759 000 tonnes, similar to estimated output in 1998. At the forecast level, domestic cereal production would cover about 80 percent of domestic requirement leaving an estimated cereal import requirement of 117 000 tonnes in the 1999/2000 marketing year. This is similar to the past years and is expected to be met mostly by commercial imports.

THE UKRAINE (10 September)

The 1999 grain harvest (with the exception of maize) is well advanced. Current indications point to another poor harvest, due to hot and dry conditions in June and July which exacerbated the effects of economic difficulties, shortages of inputs, heavy weed infestation and untimely frosts in May. These factors, together, therefore, reduced the yields. Depending on the outcome of the maize crop, the 1999 cereal and pulse harvest is not expected to recover from last year's drought reduced 29.5 million tonnes. (FAO estimate).

The aggregate grain area for harvest (12.9 million hectares) could be close to last year’s. Winter grains will be harvested from an area of 6.5 million hectares, marginally higher than last year, as winterkill was not as serious. The spring grain area could remain stable but much depends on the proportion of the maize crop harvested for grain rather than silage. Official harvest returns indicate that winter grain yields (mainly wheat and rye) are markedly lower than last year. Again this year, many regions placed controls to the free movement of grain. In addition, efforts by the government and regional authorities to recover debts owed by farmers have probably meant than there has been some understatement in actual yields. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that 1999 will see the second poor harvest in succession. At this early stage, with the final outcome of the maize harvest still uncertain, FAO provisionally estimates 1999 wheat production at about 14.5 million tonnes and total output at not less than 27 million tonnes.

Despite another poor harvest, the food supply situation is likely to remain satisfactory. However, the availability of animal feed will remain highly constrained. Even at the reduced level, domestic wheat production far exceeds the aggregate requirements for human consumption. The country therefore exported 5.8 million tonnes of grain, including 4.5 million tonnes of wheat in 1998/99. Current indications are that it is more profitable to export feed grains than to sell on the domestic market and cereal exports are likely to continue in 1999/2000, but at a reduced level.


1999 cereal production is significantly lower than last year. Latest indications are that 1999 wheat output was only 2.2 million tonnes, some 27 percent less than last year. Lower average yields, some 15 percent down, exacerbated the reduction in the area sown during the autumn. The area sown to winter wheat fell to around 700 000 hectares mainly in response to economic difficulties, particularly rapid inflation and shortages of money as well as persistent and untimely rains at planting and harvest. No firm data are yet available on the outlook for 1999 spring coarse grains. Spring sowing operations were considered a strategic priority. Official plans called for spring crops to be planted on 2.5 million hectares, including 1.5 million hectares of maize. Official reports indicate that this target was achieved. However, heavy rains and floods in July, which caused damage and disease, are likely to have affected spring grains. Yields also continue to be heavily affected by chronic shortage of farm funds and inputs, disruption of labour and damage to fields and other infrastructure.

The effect of many years of economic sanctions has been aggravated by war damage and an increasing number of the resident population (in addition to refugees and recently displaced IDPs) face severe economic hardship. Despite the poor harvest the overall cereal supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory. Substantial carry-forward stocks are available to offset the low harvest. Nevertheless, some 825 000 socially and economically vulnerable people are assessed to need 74 300 tonnes of food aid over 6 months. Farmers' ability to mobilize funds for inputs for next year's crops is not assured.

In the Province of Kosovo, the output of all crops was severely disrupted by hostilities and large-scale population displacement. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the Province in August, forecast wheat production in the province in 1999 at about 113 000 tonnes, 65 percent lower than estimated output in 1997. This will meet only 30 percent of the domestic requirement. Output of maize, at 57 000 tonnes, is forecast to be only 20 percent of average. In addition the normal spring/summer vegetable harvest was almost zero and there has been widespread looting and slaughter of livestock. These losses will have both nutritional and economic consequences in the coming year.

Although the Republic of Serbia is a net exporter of cereals, the Province of Kosovo has a wheat import requirement in 1999/2000 marketing year of an estimated at 228 000 tonnes, of which 143 000 tonnes of emergency food aid deliveries/pledges are scheduled up to the end of 1999, leaving an uncovered import gap of about 85 000 tonnes.

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